The purpose of education is to empower children with the requisite tools to go through life with the appropriate knowledge to make the right decisions. Not only is education important, computer education too is critical considering the role that technology plays in our lives, and is likely to play in the coming years. While no computer can replace a good teacher, it is not always possible to get good teachers in schools in developing nations, especially in the interiors. This is where computer-enabled education can complement the teacher in the classroom. Besides, a digital library and the Internet can help enhance and widen the learning process. It would be nice to see some of the scientific concepts brought alive through animations, making for a richer and more interactive learning.
A school is an ideal location for a TeleInfoCentre (TIC) because it is already seen as a bastion of knowledge, and is respected by most people. The TIC can be located at every primary and secondary school. During school hours, the computers are used to complement the teacher in providing IT and IT-enabled education to the students. After school hours, the centre can provide community services, some of which can be priced. This approach has multiple benefits:
We saw earlier that the monthly operating cost of a TIC-3 is Rs 9,447 while that of a TIC-10 is Rs 18,587. If a TIC-3 supports 100 students and a TIC-10 supports 1,000 students, on the assumption that each student can spend Rs 20 per month on computer and computer-enabled education, the TIC-3 will thus generate Rs 2,000 per month from education, while the TIC-10 will generate Rs 20,000 per month from education. Thus, by itself, the TIC-3 will need to generate an additional income of about Rs 7,500 per month for breakeven, while the TIC-10 can completely break-even on earnings from education itself (generating a surplus of about Rs 1,500 per month).
A TIC-3 is most likely to be at a primary school, while a TIC-10 is most likely to be at a secondary school. Primary schools are present in almost every village. Thus, the TIC-3 may need to be partially subsidized by the government if the earnings from the other services are not enough. This is to be seen as an investment in primary education.
There are multiple ways by which the TIC can generate additional revenue which can bring down the cost of student education:
By making computers available in schools at the point of delivery of education, TICs thus play a critical role in the facilitation of primary and secondary education. In addition, the same platform can be used for delivery of adult and vocational education.
The Rural Infrastructure and Services Commons (RISC) centre, which would be within a distance of 10-15 kilometres of the TICs, would function as a local support center. The RISC is where teacher training can be conducted on a regular basis. Given the current state of the infrastructure in villages, the creation of RISC precedes or at least goes hand in hand with TIC in villages.
Tomorrow: Increasing Market Access
TECH TALK Transforming Rural India+T